EXCLUSIVE: DJ Mars Talks About His New Book ‘The Art Behind The Tape’

doo wop mars
On the evolution of mixtapes as a whole:
I look at it two ways. I feel like if you’re going to call a project a mixtape, there has to be some DJs involved with it. I’m not really cool with artists saying: “Yo this is my new mixtape!” and then when you ask them about a DJ and they be like: “Yo, I don’t need no DJ.” I think that’s kind of disrespectful, you know what I mean? So if you’re not going to involve a DJ — don’t call it a mixtape. Just say, “Yo this is my street album.” That’s cool. Now, for every generation mixtapes mean different things. Like if you came up in the early 80s, a mixtape may have meant a copy of the Brucie B set at The Rooftop in Harlem. In the late 80s, a mixtape may have meant a Kid Capri that he made at the crib that you got from him on 145th Street. In the mid 90s a mixtape may have meant a DJ Clue tape, a SNS tape, a Doo Whop tape, or a Ron G tape. Moving on to the 2000s, a mixtape could’ve been a Gangsta Grillz by Drama, focused strictly on the artists. For every generation, the term mixtape morphs into something else and different. I’m not mad at the morphing, I’m not mad at the different things it evolves to. I feel like if you’re going to use the term “mixtape” — you should at least involve a mixtape in your process. Like he should be mixing it, at least. To me, at rock bottom there’s where it should be.

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